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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Welcome Back Medieval Warm Period

There was a warm period in medieval times when the Vikings settled Greenland and even started to settle in the Americas near Newfoundland. That all changed because a group of scientists could not find evidence of the warm period globally. If it wasn't global it didn't count.

That created a bit of controversy, because all of us older folks had been taught that there was a Medieval Warm Period and a Little Ice Age. The global warming scientists thought that the MWP was not very big and that the LIA probably was not either. That would mean that we, mankind, where causing unprecedented warming of apocalyptic proportions. We, mankind, were all going to die or at least be in some way harmed or inconvenienced, if we do not change our productive ways quickly.

So what is the big deal about the MWP and the LIA?

That chart show a Siberian tree ring reconstruction of past temperature by Jacoby et al which is available on the NOAA paleo site. It is the Taymar or Taymyr Peninsular reconstruction, in orange. The blue plot is the Southern South American tree ring reconstruction by Nuekum et al, also on the NOAA paleo website. What is plotted are 31 year moving averages with the Taymyr reconstruction shifted forward by 25 years. Both reconstructions were adjusted to have a common mean value. The plot indicates that there is much more temperature or at least more tree growth variability in the northern Siberian region than in the southern part of South America.

This shows unprecedented warming in the orange but not so much in the blue. So it is clear that something happened more in the Taymyr area than happened in the SSA area. That something is likely us, mankind, doing something. That something was definitely farming and industry. So we, mankind, have probably had an impact on climate. Since the impact is greater in the North than the south, farming has an edge on the impact with CO2 released during industrialization coming in second. At least that is my interpretation,

There is one issue though, Taymyr does not start at the same time as SSA. By averaging over the entire length of both reconstructions, I have an average, but I do not know how those averages relate to actually temperature.

Unless the regional reconstructions realistically reproduce temperatures you don't. The plot above is for Cook et al 1998 Tasmania with the Nuekum et al 2010 Southern South America. Averaging these two together suppress some of the signal, but leaves most of the peaks intact. Average enough quality reconstructions in the southern hemisphere, you should end up with a fair reconstruction of sea surface temperature. So comparing these reconstructions to air temperature would depress the past, just like comparing land temperatures to sea surface temperatures would show greater variation of the land than the oceans.

So you compare tree ring reconstructions to global surface temperature average you get a distorted view of the past. Long term averages should be compared to sea surface temperature, not air temperature. It appears to make a huge difference.


Just for grins, I figured I would build a hockey stick, but a high tech hockey stick, I am going to use the satellite data.

To start, I used the UAH southern hemisphere ocean data which I tried to match to the Hadley CRU version 2 SST data. My legend has a typo, it should be HADSST2. Since there is a bit of a dust up over the new version, I just used the one I had. Since I had already adjusted the averages for the Tasmania and Southern South America data, I shifted the two instrumental data sets to overlapping periods. I actually came out in the ballpark of what it should be as best I can tell.

Starting at 1400 AD I get the most dramatic hockey stick! Unlike most data splices, I used the 31 year moving averages for the proxies and the monthly for UAH and annual for HADSST2. So without including error bars, the noise of the instrument gives a rough idea of the range of temperatures now versus the smoothed proxy data.

This is the same data starting in 900 AD, that includes the MWP and the LIA. So today is probably warmer that those periods, but with the fluctuation of the instrumental data, it is hard to say how much.

This plot starts in the year 1 AD with all the same data. The Tasmania data goes back a lot more, but this is probably the highlight. So the only thing you can conclude is that the MWP and the LIA were global, but in the Southern hemisphere the change was probably not all that much. The big changes were in the Northern Hemisphere most likely. The funny part is that sea surface temperature doesn't look like it bothered changing much. The big changes around the end of WWII are probably just noise.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Don't Forget Land Use

“It turns out that land-use changes, right up to about 1950 or even 1970, were as large a player as fossil-fuel emissions were,” he says. “And even today they are not trivial.”, imagine that? Actually, those land use changes, since they are amplified by the greenhouse effect, are more than just not trivial, they are a pretty big deal. It is a lot easier to use agriculture to mitigate warming than it is to do wacky things in the air.

Speaking of wacky things in the air, the first natural compound every synthesized was urea. A common compound in urine and fertilizer. Urea contains a good deal of energy. A good bit of that energy is the hydrogen molecules and the CO party of the chain. So urea can be used to store energy and can be used in fuel cells. It can also be converted into liquid fuels. Since Urea production gets its CO and nitrogen from the air in most processes, it would be considered a sustainable or green energy component. It is normally produced with natural gas, but integrated gasification starting with coal or biomass by creating "syngas" or methane, can also be used.

Now, once the science guys verify that the Antarctic was cooling like the satellite data says, not the surface station data says, things will be moving along swimmingly. Crisis averted, bring on the next crisis.

My biggest question is how are the doom sayers going to save face? They did work extremely hard to scare the hell out of everyone. Tried to promote an idiotic one world government and all that. Will they still have jobs?

Time will tell.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Still Trying to Slay the Slayers

The Tyndall Gas Effect, Greenhouse Effect or the Atmospheric Effects,are all due to electromagnetic radiation interacting with the various elements that make up our atmosphere. As visual creatures, there pretty ones, rainbows, sundogs, aurora are all attention grabbers. The ones we cannot see, as with our own eyes, are more fun to explain. A book, Slaying the Sky Dragon, disputes the Greenhouse Effect, which is based on the Tyndall gas effect which is one of the Atmospheric effects invisible to the human eye. Humans tend to believe what they wish to believe until they "see" clear evidence to the contrary. The Slayers, have not seen the infrared light of the basic physics involved in our atmospheric effects. Mainly because the explanations or and analogies for the "Greenhouse effects" are not very well presented. Dr. Roy Spencer, has recently taken another stab at slaying the slayers.

I believe the main reason that the "greenhouse effect" is still causing controversy is the not that great understanding of the effect by the people trying to explain it. The impact of the Tyndall gas effect, AKA greenhouse effect is not just one, but a combination of effects. Describing one part while not acknowledging the rest, only increases the confusion.

One of the common mistakes is the insulation analogy. Everyone is familiar with home insulation and coolers for keeping things cool. Most everyone has a grasp that a cooler can keep beer cool can also keep food warm longer as well. It does both by reducing the rate of heat flow out of or into the cooler. Heat, a convenient form of energy, flow from greater to lesser or hot to cold. A cooler doesn't have a computer to let it know what it should do, the laws of physics, specifically, the laws of thermodynamics dictate what it does. They are laws, not guidelines.

Energy will find a way to find a lower level. The main paths for heat or thermal energy flow are conduction, convection and radiation. The rates of each flow depend on the medium of transmission because of thermal properties of that medium and the difference in energy or heat.

Conduction is the direct exchange of energy between molecules in contact. If you roast a marshmallow over a fire with a stick you will have a more pleasant experience than roasting the same marshmallow with a copper rod. Copper conducts heat much more efficiently than dried wood. If you use a green stick, you may find that your hand gets a bit warmer than if the stick is dry. Dry wood, copper and wet or green wood have different thermal properties.

The dry stick conducts the least heat of the three. The only difference between the green and dry sticks is the moisture. So water has a impact on heat transfer. The physical properties of water that cause the difference are it specific heat capacity and phase characteristics. Water though varies in volume. As a liquid, one kilogram of water occupies about one liter of space.

As ice, the water occupies more space. As a gas, water occupies even more space. How much space depends on the temperature and pressure of the space. Because of the physical properties of water, ice floats and steam rises. A huge amount of the Tyndall effect and all atmospheric effects is due to the properties of the substance water.

If you are in a desert, which has little water vapor in the air, You will be hotter in the daytime sun and colder at night than you would be on the ocean with the same amount of sunshine. That is because the air in the desert has a lower specific heat capacity than moist air on the ocean and it time time for heat to flow into or out of a volume.

With the green stick, it long to get hot at the handle than the copper rod and more time than the dry stick. The rate of heat flow varies with the physical properties of the medium, in this case the skewer for roasting a marshmallow.

The specific heat capacity of water is 1 calorie per gram degree C at 0 degrees C. That is one of the highest heat capacities of any substance. Since most table list specific heat in Joules, not calories, water as a liquid has a specific heat capacity of 4181J/kg or 4.18J/gram.

As a vapor, water has a specific heat capacity of 2.08J/kg and 2.11J/kg as ice. These values do change with temperature and pressure. Dry air has a specific heat capacity of 1J/kg at sea level and 0 C degrees. Water vapor has twice the heat capacity of dry air. Adding water vapor to dry air increases the heat capacity of the air mixture. Wikipedia has a nice list of the sensible heat capacities of substances. that is only a part of the story though.

Wikipedia also has a list of the thermal conductivity of substances. This list is a lot more complicated because different common substances has different compositions. Dry wood for example has a range of 0.04 to 0.17 Watts per meter-K, wet wood, at 12% moisture has a range of 0.09 to 0.4 W/m-k, but you can see that with about 12% moisture, wet wood conducts 4 times as much heat energy.

Water vapor, at one bar or at sea level conducts 0.04W/m-K or one tenth as much as the wet wood. Make a mental note of that.

The thermal conductivity of air 0.024, per the engineering toolbox. Adding moisture to the air increase the thermal conductivity. Then change in the thermal conductivity is a little confusing though. Any moisture changes the thermal conductivity, but there is no significant difference until the temperature of the moist air mixture is greater than 20 C degrees. As the temperature of the moist air approaches 100 C degrees, the difference is much larger. The reason for this it that that amount of water vapor that the air can hold is limited by its temperature and pressure.

Now water vapor can change the thermal conductivity as I ask you to note, but it is limited by the properties of the mixture of all atmospheric gases, temperature and pressure from making much change under normal atmospheric conditions. That limit is called the saturation vapor pressure. Air can be saturated with moisture which would be 100% relative humidity. Once it reaches saturation, it cannot hold any more moisture unless the temperature increases or the pressure decreases. Since the temperature in the atmosphere decreases with decreasing pressure, warm moist air can rise further in the atmosphere until it reaches a point of 100% relativity humidity and the water vapor begins to condense. Since water has a higher specific heat than water vapor, there must be a change in heat content and volume for there to be a phase change from vapor to liquid or vapor to solid. Since this change is not easily seen, it is call the latent or hidden heat of fusion or vaporization. Heat has to be gained by the water molecules to progress from ice to water liquid to water vapor, and heat lost to progress in the opposite direction. As a vapor, water is limited by temperature and pressure to the amount of energy it can gain or lose until it reaches saturation.

So water vapor adds to the specific heat of the air, causes a small increase in the thermal conductivity of air which is limited by temperature and pressure and the amount of water vapor the air can hold is limited by temperature, pressure and available water.

Back to the marshmallow roast. If it is a cold night, you will notice that the fire warms one side of you, the one facing the fire, and the back side stays cool or even seems to get colder. Since the heat of the fire is expanding the air, cause it to rise, most of the heat you feel is due to radiant heat transfer. You put your hands over the fire to warm them, you are getting added warmth from the conductive heat transfer from the rising warm air plus the radiant heat transfer. The actual convection does not warm you, it actually case cooling as colder denser air moves toward the fire to replace the warm rising air. So the convection transfers the heat from point to point, but does not transfer heat from surface to surface. The surface to surface transfer is due to either conduction or radiant heat flow. For the water in the air to condense, it also has to lose heat by conduction or radiant heat transfer.

So without including carbon dioxide, there are quite a few physical processes that have some influence on the rate and amount of heat that can be transferred from one surface to another.

Just like with water vapor, adding CO2 changes the physical properties of the atmosphere. Just like water vapor, only a small amount is required for some of the change and more will increase other changes and temperature and pressure are factors that also must be considered. Unlike water vapor, CO2 is non-condensable for most of the temperature and pressure ranges in the atmosphere.

The specific heat capacity of CO2 is 2,470J/kg at 0 C degrees. A little over half the capacity of water and slightly HIGHER than water vapor. The specific heat capacity of CO2 is much more variable with temperature and pressure than water vapor, ranging from 36,400 at 30 C degrees to 1,840 at -50 C degrees. The thermal conductivity of CO2 also ranges from 0.07 at 30C to 0.115 at -20C degrees. Both of those ranges are for one atmosphere of pressure. While CO2 is considered non-condensable in the atmosphere, it has a freezing point of -78.5C sea level and approximately -89C at 0.38 atmospheres. That means that the impact of CO2 on the properties of air are highly dependent on temperature and pressure for conditions of the atmosphere. Just as a small quantity of water vapor can can impact air temperature, a small concentration of CO2 can have an impact on the air temperature.

The big question is how much does a change in CO2 have on the atmosphere? The answer depends on the range of change possible. That really hinges on another physical property not yet mentioned, thermal diffusivity. The thermal difusivity of air is roughly its thermal conductivity divided by the product of the density and specific heat of the air. CO2 changes both the thermal conductivity and the specific heat capacity of the air and both in a non-linear manner. The specific heat capacity increase with temperature exponentially, which decreases the thermal diffusivity. The thermal conductivity increases with a decrease in temperature with a maximum value at -20C degrees, then begins to decrease with temperature. In a greenhouse, where temperature, pressure convection are controlled, the impact would be the greatest. In an open atmosphere, convection is not limited, advection, horizontal winds are not limited and pressure is subject to change both locally and with convection. This makes it fairly easy to show greenhouse warming in an experiment, but difficult as all hell in an open system like our atmosphere.

Just to give a real world example of the impact of conductivity and radiant energy flux, consider a radiant barrier or space blanket. Using the US R-value, an air space of 3/4" has an R value of one. Adding a clean, shiny, brand new radiant reflective barrier increase the R-value to three. That would imply that conductivity is at least one third as important as radiant heat transfer between surfaces. It is the transfer between surfaces that creates the convective and latent heats that can transfer energy to another surface at another point in space and time.

BTW, since atmospheric physical properties are related to pressure which is dependent on gravitational force, gravity doe impact climate. But the change in gravity does not appear to produce significant changes in the lower troposphere where we live. It likely does have a small impact in the upper atmosphere, but how much is far from known.

Monday, March 12, 2012

What's up with the Southern Hemisphere?

I love it when statisticians try to explain why some things are significant and others are not. Climate science is heavily statistical with out the benefit of the advice of the heavy weight statisticians.

Global warming should include the entire globe. Half of the global isn't buying into the global warming projected, predicted or fantasized by the climate scientists. Now why would that be?

Probably because the science is missing a few minor details. In order for the greenhouse gases to warm the surface, they must cool some part of the upper atmosphere. Since greenhouse gases cannot product energy, just return a portion of the energy they encounter, the total energy is not changed. For one location to gain more energy, another must lose some energy it would have if it were not intercepted by the greenhouse gases. That is pretty well known, but the point that loses energy is the tropopause and the upper troposphere. If greenhouse gases are warming the surface, the indication of the degree of warming due to extra greenhouse gases would been measurable in the upper troposphere and tropopause.

The Antarctic in winter receives no solar energy. The only energy it can receive would be from the ocean circulation, atmospheric circulation and the upper troposphere/tropopause. For the Antarctic to be cooling in the midst of the most noticeable anthropogenic greenhouse forcing ever, it must be cooling because of the troposphere/tropopause. It should be, because there has been a change in the radiant forcing partially because of additional greenhouse gases. That sounds like a contradiction? Not really.

Since around 1996, the Antarctic temperature has stabilized. That would be an indication that the increase in radiant forcing due to natural and anthropogenic causes has peaked. Should the next prolonged solar minimum reduce global radiant forcing, then the Antarctic will begin to warm. The Antarctic is out of phase with global surface radiant forcing.

With the short length of the satellite temperatures and the unreliable nature of the Antarctic surface temperature measurements, it is impossible to tell accurately, but total global feedback to radiant forcing appears to have caught up with radiant forcing around 1995.

With a prolonged solar minimum, there is likely to be over 0.2 degrees of cooling until the same feed backs that caught up with radiant forcing, fall back to compensate for reduced radiant forcing. Thermal inertia of the ocean upper third is the likely main feed back for this case. What the final temperature will be in indeterminate. There is too much uncertainty in the long term temperature reconstruction to tell what should be average temperature for this period in the history of the Earth.

The inverse relationship of the Antarctic and tropopause to radiant forcing does appear to be the primary driver of one of the internal climate oscillations. More accurate measurement of the Antarctic temperatures should provide insight into future decadal length weather and climate change. However, with all the potential climate perturbations, volcanoes, magnetic field fluctuations, solar cycles and undesirable encounters with objects in space, it is not likely that long term climate is predictable. There is indication though that land use and atmospheric pollution does impact climate, there is still the question of how much by which though.

I would not bet the farm that the statistically challenged climate scientists have much of a handle on the situation, at least, until they can do a better job explaining what is happening in the Antarctic.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Again on Water Absorbs Almost no Solar Radiation

A doubling is Carbon Dioxide is estimated to increase atmospheric absorption of outgoing long wave radiation by 3.7Wm-2. Based on Earth Energy Budgets compiled by NASA, that same atmosphere absorbed approximately 26 PW of out going radiation and 33 PW of solar radiation. PW is Peta Watts of 10 raised to the 15th power Watts per second. 3.7Wm-2 per second with a total surface area of the Earth of 5.1 times 10 raised to the 14th power would be 0.51 PW.

That would be a 1.9PW increase in the outgoing long wave radiation absorbed by the atmosphere increasing the total OLR absorbed to 27.9PW assuming a doubling from the CO2 concentration at the time the Energy Budget chart was created. That extra 1.9PW would be a 7.3 percent increase in the OLR absorbed which would increase the total radiant energy absorbed by the atmosphere by 3.2 percent. Conduction, convection and latent energy is also transferred to the atmosphere. Then total shown on the chart is 111PW, that is all the energy that the atmosphere radiates to space. The doubling of CO2 would initially change that value by 1.7 percent. there is also 10 PW shown of the chart radiated from the surface directly to space, so the total energy radiated to space would be 121PW, so the doubling would initially change that value by one percent.

How much will the solar absorbed by the atmosphere change? How much will the conductive, convective, latent and direct to space energy transfer change?

Of the incoming solar, 33PW is absorbed in the atmosphere and 89PW absorbed by the surface. So of the total 122PW absorbed by the surface and atmosphere, 27% is absorbed by the atmosphere. Of the total 121PW leaving the surface and atmosphere headed to space, 26PW or 21% is from OLR absorbed in the atmosphere. That is a difference of approximately six percent or 7.3PW.

Interestingly, water vapor, which many say absorbs almost no solar radiation, absorbs approximately six percent of the incoming solar absorbed by the surface and atmosphere. That is about 7.3PW versus the 1.9PW of additional absorption expected by a doubling of CO2. That almost negligible absorption by water vapor is nearly four times the expected change from Green House Gas (GHG) Effect change.

With warmer surface temperatures, there will be more moisture in the atmosphere. That increased moisture, water vapor, will absorb more incoming solar. Depending on the altitude of the absorption, the additional energy absorbed will increase convection cooling the surface or block solar absorption at the surface if the additional moisture is near or above the tropopause. Additionally, that increase in water vapor will also absorb more of the returned CO2 radiation, further increasing the rate of convection which is a cooling effect. Water in liquid and gas phase will also absorb more of the incoming solar and the return CO2 return radiation, increasing the rate of convection,m a cooling effect. The water and liquid and ice, is also likely to undergo phase changes in the troposphere, a cooling effect. Lat but not least, in order for there to be more water vapor in the atmosphere, there has to be more surface evaporation, also a cooling effect. The increased surface evaporation would also increase conductive/convective heat transfer from the surface, a cooling effect.

For something that absorbs almost no solar radiation, it sure has a great potential for absorbing solar radiation and changing the impact of returned long wave radiation.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Not Concentric - Not Symmetrical

The Earth is not exactly round and the troposphere is not exactly round either. When modeling things, it is nice to use stuff that is easy. Modelling the greenhouse effect, nice up and down or nice sphere inside a sphere or a box inside a box make the math easier. The nice assumptions might work out with a nice answer or the might work out to a nice mess. Nick Stokes has a blog post on concentric black body spheres used as a basic model of the greenhouse effect. Nick has equations and everything, but the solution boils down to what should be obvious.

In Nick's drawing, which is a lot classier than mine, he shows a section dA to represent the radiant disc used for most black body problems. We assuming the shape of a radiant source, the disc is the best since it is the basic shape used by Planck, Stefan, Boltzmann and the rest of the original gang. The radiation will proceed in all directions, but each of the infinite directions is represented by a small disc, dA. For the concentric circles, representing the sphere in two dimensions, The outer sphere absorbs all of the inner sphere radiation and re-emits 1/2 back to the inner sphere, or circle in the drawing.

If the spheres are not concentric, portions of the outer shape will receive more than others. Also because of the non-uniform shapes, portion of the inner sphere will be missed more by section of the outer sphere. In that case, the outer sphere will receive its own radiation from another point. The absorption will not be uniform, the solution not as simple.

Since all of the inner sphere radiation will be absorbed by the outer sphere, it is easier to concentrate only of the outer sphere. At the apex or point of the outer sphere, less energy is directed to the inner sphere. Near the flatter section, more will be absorbed by the inner sphere.

In this drawing I have added another not exactly concentric sphere, represented as egg shape. The line is exaggerated, but gives the basic idea of what impact the odd shape would produce less return to the inner sphere. All of the energy from the inner sphere would be absorbed by the middle oblique sphere, half of that would be returned and all not returned from the middle oblique sphere would be absorbed by the outer oblique and half of that would be returned to in middle oblique. The middle sphere would return half inward and half outward. The net because of the shape would always be less absorbed by the middle oblique sphere. That difference is likely negligible, but may not be. One of the issues with the greenhouse effect is whether or not it is a small enough error to be negligible. If there are enough spheres, each one would receive less until no radiation would be returned to the center sphere.

What is neat, is no matter the shapes, the outermost sphere or oblique sphere will always return 1/2 of the energy emitted by the inner most sphere. That leaves the only question, what about in the middle oblique sphere? The middle oblique will always return less to the inner at the apex and will always return more at the flatter section. That is pretty much what happens in our atmosphere.

Whether difference is significant seems to be an issue that I personally, do not think should exist. Since water, in various phases increases in concentration below the tropopause to a maximum at the surface and the total density of the atmosphere increase with pressure, it is impossible for downwelling infrared photons to penetrate as easily downward as they can upward. In order for additional greenhouses gases to have the impact estimated in the worst case requires a great deal of creativity.

The first part of the creativity is the simple up/down radiant model. Each GHG molecule absorbs and emits in all directions. By assuming that the curvature of the Earth's surface with respect to the average radiant layer is negligible, the simple up/down model works. The geometry would seem to allow this assumption, but the simple geometry is misleading until one looks at the specific humidity or water content of the atmosphere.

In the Antarctic winter there is the minimum specific humidity found anywhere on Earth's surface. The Zonal Average Moist Potential Temperature in the MIT labweb notes illustrates the issue of assuming geometry is negligible enough for a simple up/down radiant model. From the equator, the high moisture of the upper troposphere forces more down welling long wave radiation towards the poles. This would increase the surface warming in the mid-latitudes, then the symmetry ends. The moist potential temperature drops much more dramatically towards the southerly polar region than northerly. There is no symmetrical polar amplification of additional GHG forcing because there is no symmetrical specific humidity distribution.

With an average annual temperature nearly 30 degrees C lower in the Antarctic, it would require nearly 10 times the estimated GHG forcing to cause a significant increase in Antarctic specific humidity. In the Arctic, less warming would be required for ice free summer conditions, but with the average annual temperature below 250K, it is unlikely that 23 degrees of warming is possible with any reasonable estimate of GHG forcing.

UPDATE: I left Nick a question, what if you add another sphere? here is his answer:

Yes, interesting thought. The "Update" formula extends. The outer shell S3 emits P at emittance P/A3; The second receives irradiance P/A3 from S3 (again it gets the same as it would get at isothermal), total power P+A2*P/A3. And the innermost, S1, receives that emittance P*(1/A2+1/A3) that S2 emits inward (same as outward), which is power P*A1*(1/A2+1/A3). So balancing, S1 emits that plus the source P, with an emittance of P*(1/A1+1/A2+!/A3).

For N spheres, P*(1/A1+....+1/AN)

So like I said, with concentric spheres as a basic model, you would always get the same results. Obviously, our atmosphere is a little more complicated. Since the atmospheric layers are not concentric, the geometry would matter, but the shape of the atmosphere is constantly changing.

Should Nick look into the oblique spheres, he should find that in certain configurations, the spherical assumption is adequate, in others not so adequate. The only relationship I can find that may be consistent, is the Antarctic.

A kick butt model though should notice that the Antarctic is misbehaving by being more stable than expected.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Antarctic Nonsense

In 2009, Eric Steig and company published a paper that made the cover of Nature Magazine entitled, Antarctic Warming. The conclusion of the paper was than the antarctic has been warming at a rate of 0.1 degrees per decade from 1957 to 2006, five decades, 0.5 degrees of warming. The paper received a warm reception from the press, plus plenty of pats on the backs from the crew at

Not long after the paper was publish, Hu McCulloch, PhD, noticed an error in the confidence interval of the paper published in Nature. That prompted me to write a short article on the quality of climate science and the scientific peer review process, Global Warming and Math Errors.

Not long after I wrote that article, a group of online climate skeptics reviewed the Nature paper finding more errors and ended up publishing their own peer reviewed paper on the Nature paper. If you search for the O'Donnel et. al paper this is the first link you would find, O'Donnell et al 2010 Refutes Steig et al 2009.

The O'Donnell et al paper does not attempt to determine the actual degree of warming or lack of warming in the Antarctic, it merely compares various methods and finds the methodology used in Steig et al 2009 is not very accurate. One of the co-authors of Steig et al 2009 is Micheal Mann, PhD, developer of the iconic Hockey Stick used to provide a visual aid for the proponents of Global Warming. Dr. Mann's statistical prowess has been questioned by many statisticians, and generally found lacking robustness.

In the aftermath of all this scientific squabbling, the temperature record for the Antarctic that still indicates warming of approximately 0.1 degrees per decade in spite of satellite data indicating cooling of nearly the same magnitude for the same period.

The chart above I produced using the surface temperature data available from NASA GISS for the Antarctic region, latitude 64S to 90S in blue and the Satellite data from Remote Sensing Service, RSS for the mid-troposphere latitude 82.5S to 60S. There is a blind spot in the satellite data for the coldest region of the Antarctic, so the two are not exact comparisons. They should be close enough for a reasonable comparison of the trends for the region.

So instead of the Antarctic warming by 0.1C degrees per decade, the satellite seems to indicate that it is cooling by approximately 0.1C degrees per decade. I don't recall the scientists promoting radical economic changes to ward of Global Warming making note of this slight indication of uncertainty.

My question is how much impact would this little mathematical faux pas have on the global mean temperature used to press the need for radical economic changes to ward of Global Warming?

This chart, using the RSS data for the poles and tropics, indicates that there is warming in the Arctic region since 1995, but no warming in the tropics or Antarctic regions of any significance.

Based on this chart using GIStemp versus RSS from 1995 plotted on, the satellite warming from 1995 to present is a little less than half of the warming shown on GISTEMP.

The surface temperature average has been checked by literally thousands of scientists and bloggers. For some reason, the error in the Antarctic still exists and is never pointed out by the scientists advocating radical economic change to combat Global Warming. In fact, the Steig et al paper is still being considered for inclusion in the next version of the IPCC report despite its numerous flaws. Micheal Mann has even published a book on his views of the Climate Wars, where he perceives he is being unfairly criticized by skeptics of his "science". Just about everything that can be done, other than attempting to fix the obvious mistake, is being done.

Personally, I believe I would have to fire a few climate scientists that feel paranoid of the skeptical public should the skeptical public point out their inability to use a basic tool like math. Luckily for some climate scientists, I am not in charge. Should someone that is in charge happen upon this post, hopefully, they will fire a few of the more outspoken scientists that are more concerned with publishing new work, than repairing poor quality work.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Thermohalide Cycles and Antarctica

The impact of Antarctica on the thermohaline circulation of the oceans has been plauging me for some time. Most of the problem is the lack of quality data in the Antarctic and the length of the instrumental temperature record. The chart above appears to be a key part of that puzzle. By using the RSS Antarctic region mid-troposphere temperature data, I appear to have found a conflict with the surface temperature average. The Antarctic according to RSS is cooling and has been cooling for some time.

This reconstruction of temperatures in southern South America, from the NOAA paleo website, provided by R. Neukom1, J. Luterbacher2, R. Villalba3, M. K├╝ttel1,4, D. Frank5, P.D. Jones, M. Grosjean1, H. Wanner1, J.-C. Aravena7, D.E. Black8, D.A. Christie9, R. D'Arrigo10, A. Lara9,11, M. Morales3, C. Soliz-Gamboa12, A. Srur3, R. Urrutia9, and L. von Gunten1,13., may indicate that current cooling in the Antarctic started around 1945, hard to tell. There appears to be general cooling for the entire length of the reconstruction with general warming for the last half.

Since I suspect some influence from the 22 year Hale solar cycle, the above plot compares the SSA reconstruction with the Jacoby et. al Taymyr Peninsular reconstruction from Siberia. This shows that both have similar longer term pseudo cycles and there is roughly a 30 year lag between the two polar regions. There is also a change in the correlation starting around 1931. This change is likely due to agricultural and/or industrial expansion in the northern hemisphere which did not occur to the same extent in the southern high latitudes.

Nearly lost in all the noise is the lag between the two polar regions. Since radiant forcing is much more rapid than ocean heat uptake or loss, the Antarctic is a major source of the deep ocean heat loss and that there appears to be little change in the Antarctic due to the efforts of mankind, I would suspect that the lag is related to ocean heat content. That suspicion may be a reach, but the cycle length of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation agrees rather well with the lag.

The physical cause of the lag is somewhat complex. If it were in better agreement with the solar cycle, it would have already been well documented. Since it has not been well documented, it is open to theory.

The best explanation I can find for the lag and the long term pseudo oscillation is the change in atmospheric conduction caused by Carbon Dioxide variation associated with general warming and cooling combined with the tropopause altitude/temperature variation cause by the radiant forcing variations of the same greenhouse gases.

In order to warm the surface, the greenhouse gases must cool the tropopause. Since the Antarctic is closely related to the conditions of the tropopause, that cooling, out of phase with surface warming, increases deep ocean heat loss in the Antarctic region waters.

With the apparent error in the Antarctic surface station data, this unique feedback relationship would not be obvious. Also because of limited instrumentation, the relationship of the Antarctic geomagnetic north pole and synchronization with the solar magnetic field impacting the efficiency of ocean heat loss to the Antarctic atmosphere, is not easily verified.

Time though will resolve all of the issues. In the mean time, simple options to avoid excessive Northern Hemisphere warming are available.

The average length of the thermohaline cycle appears to be 236 years, BTW. Much better paleo reconstructions would be needed to confirm that, but focusing a little more on regional reconstruction should help resolve that issue. I believe that a newly launched polar orbital satellite should make some head way on the geomagnetic issue. In any case, that is the new installment in my theory of the ice ages.